MOOC – E-Learning on Steroids

Hardly any industry is moving as fast as the IT industry. While your operational experience and knowledge of the vertical domain you are working in, is growing naturally along your career, it is not the same for IT. For example the airport environment, the underlying basics and physics of handling aircrafts, planning flights, etc. are exposed to changes, innovations and challenges, look at the A-CDM program, it took quite some years to take off and become main-stream, that is a much slower than any new general IT technology or platform soaring. Though this industry is picking up speed too and the boundaries between the digital and physical world start to blur more and more, airports are running digital transformation programs, though passengers still flying in the physical world.

But on the IT side of things, the speed is way beyond breath-taking and it is hard to keep a minimal overview over many areas of IT concerns as well dive into specific topics. How to stay up-to-date and tune into relevant topics ? Books (ink and electronic versions) and forums are certainly the traditional approach, on top of that you join conferences and in-persons seminars and training (which comes at a cost and time spent).

Since the 2000’s online courses came into the picture, as the successor for e-learning, and allow a much bigger audience to learn new technologies, skills and more. The very positive part, there are lots and lots of free courses, most platforms offer free and commercial courses, sometimes free to participate and only charge a fee if you want to get an official certificate (one can argue about the value of such certs) but most important, you can learn and move forward and update your knowledge with the click of a button.

The big challenge though is to identify what you need or interested in, find the right courses and, most important, manage your time. Using your spare time you have to choose wisely, you can’t run for every course out there, even they are so many you are interested in and you are temped to sign up for a dozen of courses, only not to finish any of them.

Todays key-/buzzword for this is MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses. This is like e-learning on steroids, in the past you had to look at dull corporate slides pretty much by yourself, now we look at videos, reading material online and offline, interactions with the organizer, mentor, trainer or your virtual peers at various levels.

Not only the organizations that started online learning, like schools and universities, are into the game, as well companies operating specific online course platforms and now book publishing companies offering courses and finally professional social platforms like LinkedIn.

I attended online courses at Coursera and Udacity, which offer a broad range of topics, and now started with some specific courses on HCI and UX at Interaction Design Foundation which solely offers courses on UX, HCI, Visualization and related topics. Though the courses are unattended (except the rating of your text answers or comments) but repeating, you still have a motivation to participate and go though the lessons because you pay money and they help you pacing the whole course by releasing the lesson packages over time.

Stay tuned for the results.

Thoughts about Android

What is still missing in the market (the official Android Market) ?

  1. Language filter
    Now with a total number of apps beyond 150.000 it becomes harder by the day to find apps. Time to release a feature that allows to search apps in one (or more) languages. It does not help to browse through Chinese or Korean or Spanish apps (depending on your mother tongue).

    Language Filter ?

  2. Dates Added and Last Updated for apps
    There is currently no way to identify when an app was added or when it was updated last time. There are too many apps which are outdated or not maintained any longer (I have one app with 250.000 + downloads without an update since more than one year, despite obvious bugs). Maybe create an automatic flag “this app was not update for more than 12/24 months” so user dont waste their time looking at it, or even filter it out. Of course there are alos stable apps that dont need to be updated.
    PS: You can see the changelog with www.androidzoom.com, I guesss they maintain it independently.
  3. Sandbox for “Hello World” and “Test” apps
    Give the developer community a sandbox area where they (we) can do our tests and fooling around with features. The noise factor for the real apps gets higher and higher. OK, you dont search for “hello world”, but it would help doing the housekeeping.

    Test App

    Hello World

More statistics

Made some more statistics just by looking at the number of apps within one month (using the frontpage of androidzoom.com).
Of the roughly 175.000 apps, only 12% are games. There is a vast number of apps disappearing every month. Look at wallpapers and cards games.
I doubt many developers actively remove their apps from the market, so who else is doing it ? Are so many apps flagged by users or is Google looking at IP infringement at last ? (How many wallpapers can you count of movies and cartoons which are definitely NOT licensed by the respective owner?)
Look at it by yourself..

Homemadde statistics

Thoughts on Open Source Software

OSS has grown up, it came a long way from basement hacking by students to “openness” of software by multi-national enterprises that we have today, though luckily the first group is still there creating innovative, sometimes genius sparks, and sharing it with the world. In our company we fully tap into the OSS ecosystem and try to give back as much as possible by using OSS, raising bugs and giving feedback.
Still there is the confusion OSS means free (as free beer). I wan to raise this following the discussion caused b the change of license for the ZK Ajax Framework (GPL to LGPL, creating CE, PE and EE edition). If you use a library for your commercial projects and expect certain quality and support for it, you can’t expect the company behind it to work completely for free. Its business not charity work, and in this case you still can access the sourcecode, you can download all the editions and if you are happy with the community edition (CE) it is still perfect if you dont want to pay money.
On the other side, it shows it is smarter to start from the very beginning with a dual license scheme as a software shop, free and “less free”, then you never trigger a discussion about this at a later stage  !

Daily Thoughts 5

  • IBM to acquire SUN ?
    Its not really new that SUN is looking for someone with a big pocket to buy the whole shop. Among potential candidates are DELL, HP,.. and IBM, which seems to be more serious about the deal (link). What will it means ? I am not sure if I want to tune into the pessimistic mood, that you find in some forums (link). A lot of innovative and creative power will be grounded (or at least the financial backing of it). IBM has zero genuine interest in Open Source and IBM is NOT hip, they are old fashioned and ultra bureaucratic. Most of the (server) products will disappear (or merged into their websphere product line with usual high pricetags) and stuff like Netbeans will turned down (in favor of eclipse), aka “opened” to the community but disappear in irrelevance after a while. We wont know. I hope that doesnt create another Microsoft in the srver world.
  • 456,520 downloads of Glassfish
    That shows the appreciation and adoption of the product in comparison to a number of other (propietary) products. Would IBM call it GlassSphere, Websphere Glass or whatever.
    Link
  • Google Chrome Beta
    There is another beta available for download (link). Despite the rumors Google would trash the browser is still taking up. Certain features I really like, I guess it could take some shares of the user distribution in future. I dislike the persistent update application running in the background with an option to disable it. I still favor Firefox because of the huge number of plugins. I dislike its getting slower to startup and eats memory.

Daily Thoughts 4

  • 100,000,000th JavaFX
    Last week Jonathan Schwartz celebrated the 100,000,000 download of the JavaFX runtime on his blog (link). I share his excitement about JavaFX technology out now to conquer the field of Silverlight and Flash. If not I would not invert time in picking it up ! But to paint a bit more realistic picture, there is no dedicated JavaFX runtime installer. It is included with the regular, actual JRE installer, or to quote from java.com “JavaFX runtime is integrated with Java download. During the installation of Java 6 update10 (jre6u10), users will also be installing JavaFX runtime.” (link). JavaFX piggyback in a way (a smart way), but thats fine, this way as a solution provider you dont need to struggle with extra plugin installer, your customer or user already has it (at least with an up-to-date JRE).
    The JavaFX SDK has supposingly 100,000 downloads.
  • Netbeans 7 turns 6.7
    Release was initially the next release planned to hit the community, but the development team decided to release a version 6.7 in June (milestone release in next few weeks) and 7 at a later stage. I guess JEE6 support is among the reason to wait for 7. More info at netbeans.org (link).
  • Android versus JavaFX
    The more I read about the background of the 2 technolgies, even they are very close relatives, the more I doubt there will be a JavaFX running on Android anytime soon. My personal guess: Some folks will offspring a project on Kenai or Sourceforge to get it running.
  • Buying Android in Singapore
    One day after I ordered the dev phone from US, Singtel started to sell the HTC dream, which is an Android phone, here. Guess like the T-Mobile G1 it is locked. Good timing though. Lets see what is the retail price without contract (maybe not available).

Daily Thoughts 3

  • REA
    We all know about RIA, aka Rich Internet Applications. But do you know there is also a REA ? Rich Enterprise Applications ! Not exactly sure what it means, but I am sure its like RIA pimp my boring business and office application. I came across the word on the Icefaces website.
  • JEE6
    The latest release should have already hit the road in 2008, but JSR 316 (link) only now is under public review until February 23. I guess the step from version 5 to 6 will not be as dramatic as in the previous historic change from J2EE 1.4 (released 2002) to JEE5 (May 2006). But life becomes more easier or better more abstract. Just worries me that you need lots of experience to understand whats going on under the hood !
    Some work coming up for all the Application Server Vendor to become compliant again (most of them sit in the JCP commitee anyway), not to mention customer s who still use 1.4,  running behind the crowd with their systems! Time will reveal the roadmap.
    Lots of new books gonna delight us on JEE6 and J7 !

On Domain Names

My very first domain I “bought” (what is the proper term ? “rented”) somewhere in 1998. It was fairly easy because there wre many names to choose from (.de and .com), apart from company and citynames. We fast forward to today >> A netcraft survey states there are 188,000,000 websites (own domain name, not counting subdomains or myspace homepages) around.

December 2008 Netcraft survery
December 2008 Netcraft survery

I am not sure if this quantity really reflect an increase of quality or the increase of available information. I wish there would be a way to make statistic on how many sites are spam, redirect-sites or name-hogging sites. My personal guess is 50%.

Make an experiment: Lets say you want to register a new domain for whatever new company or product you just invented. Try to find an available domain name (.com / .net. / .biz /.info) ! You wont find any, either you randomly start hacking 10 characters on the keyboard.

Any word from the dictionary is taken ! Also any combination of dictionary words and words like:
system, systems,web,agile,new,log, net,123,24,360,my

It seems the big hogging companies like sedo running bots looking for unused words and combination’s and reserve them.

Most stupid web domain names that I came across:

9999999999.com
999999999.com
99999999.com
9999999.com
987654321.com
PointDoParking.com
thatstupidwebsite.com
mylifevest.com
greatestsiteever.com
webblurb.net

and so on and so on …….